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Benefits of Messy Play!

“Messy play” is just what it sounds like, engaging with substances with a wide range of textures- slimy, slippery, gooey, gritty, and more!  There are many benefits to starting age appropriate messy play with your child. Read more about it in our blog!

Benefits of Messy Play

Starting early with messy play has many benefits. Messy play can help improve on a variety of tolerances and skills such as:

  • Tactile (touch) tolerance
  • Sensory processing skills
  • Improving picky eating (for picky eaters who refuse to try food due to texture or appearance)
  • Gross motor and fine motor skills
  • Cognitive development/problem solving

Activities to Try for Each Age Group

Please note that some children may be extra sensitive and avoidant of certain textures or sensory input.  If this is the case, do not force the child to engage with the substance.  Consult with your occupational therapy practitioner about devising and implementing an individualized plan for addressing your child’s sensory needs.


During feeding times, allow your child to get messy and have food on his or her face and hands instead of constantly wiping them off.


Try implementing food-based sensory play that will be safe for your little one if they put it in their mouth.  Try using  jello, pudding, applesauce, or kool whip.  You can drive toy cars through it, make plastic dinosaurs stomp through it, or practice scooping it with a spoon.

Early Elementary

Have fun experimenting with different art projects, such modeling clay, finger painting, and paper mache.

Older Kids

Make a batch of homemade slime, or try a baking task that involves a tactile component, such a kneading bread dough, rolling cookie dough into balls, or stretching out pizza dough.

References: https://yourkidstable.com/messy-play/

Written by: Elizabeth Horsch, COTAL

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